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Mya Stone

S03.E02: Dead Man's Party

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My very least favourite storytelling device is drama driven by characters not talking to each other. When a whole load of angst happens because people who would normally talk to each other don't, I just hate it. Presumably over the summer Giles would have filled in Joyce on everything from S1&2 that she needed to know. Maybe not the events of Prophecy Girl as that as that would be too much at that point. But about everything with Angel, what Buffy has been going through since he turned including her guilt at not having killed him before he killed Jenny. That when Buffy said she needed to go save the world, again, she was being literal. Joyce would also have filled Giles in on everything that happened with Spike and between them Giles would come to understand the deal Buffy made to let Dru go and explained to Joyce how much that would have hurt her too. He and Joyce would have speculated on what happened and Joyce would have learned that Willow was trying to re-ensoul Angel.

So when Buffy showed up at the end of Anne, Joyce and Buffy would surely have sat down and Joyce would have let Buffy in on just how much she has come to understand. Then gotten Buffy to tell her exactly what happened after she left the house that night. Buffy, might have been reluctant initially but she would eventually have explained it all to Joyce. They would have reconciled much better at that point and Joyce would have called Giles, had him come over and either had Buffy explain to him what happened or explained it to him herself. Then either Buffy or Giles would have told the rest of the Scoobies. They would have sympathised, while also letting her know just how much it had hurt them that she hadn't gotten in touch. Xander's 'kick his ass,' comment would have come up and moved on from. Then over the next few days Willow would have told her how much she missed her friend while she went through her big changes over the summer but it wouldn't have been a recriminatory thing, just a truth that would help Buffy realise that even though she was hurting, her actions hurt the people who love her. And when Angel fell out of hell, Buffy would have been less inclined to hide him.

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5 hours ago, AllyB said:

Giles would come to understand the deal Buffy made to let Dru go and explained to Joyce how much that would have hurt her too.

This assumes that Joyce was paying close enough attention to Buffy and Spike's conversation to be able to tell Giles about the "deal".  Given that Joyce is completely confused about the whole "Slayer" concept and had never even heard of Drusilla, much less laid eyes on her, and given that Joyce is enjoying some…liquid therapy to help cope, I really doubt it.

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Joyce would have remembered that though because when Buffy objected to letting Dru go free as she'd killed Kendra, Joyce leapt on it as proof that Buffy hadn't killed her and wanted to call the cops. While she mightn't have remembered names or a lot of details, Giles would have managed to work out what happened. He would have been shocked to learn Spike was with Buffy and wanted to to know why. When Joyce told him he wanted to be able to leave with the person/vampire who killed the girl Buffy was accused of killing, Giles would have figured out that it was Druscilla. And it would have made sense to him that Spike hated Angelus' influence over Dru enough to want to betray him to the slayer.

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1 hour ago, AllyB said:

Joyce would have remembered that though because when Buffy objected to letting Dru go free as she'd killed Kendra, Joyce leapt on it as proof that Buffy hadn't killed her and wanted to call the cops. While she mightn't have remembered names or a lot of details, Giles would have managed to work out what happened. He would have been shocked to learn Spike was with Buffy and wanted to to know why. When Joyce told him he wanted to be able to leave with the person/vampire who killed the girl Buffy was accused of killing, Giles would have figured out that it was Druscilla. And it would have made sense to him that Spike hated Angelus' influence over Dru enough to want to betray him to the slayer.

I also assumed Buffy filled Xander in offscreen. 

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3 hours ago, Joe Hellandback said:

I also assumed Buffy filled Xander in offscreen. 

Eh, I don't know.  She certainly makes an effort to skirt the truth with Willow:

Quote

WILLOW: (cut to her) I guess. Any luck finding Giles?

BUFFY: (cut to her) Yep. I got a lucky break.

WILLOW: What?

BUFFY: You wouldn't believe me if I told you.

And yes, she might be taking it easy on Willow because of the concussion, but I don't see her giving chapter and verse here.  A not-quite-lie ("I found a vampire and convinced him to talk") seems more likely, if only because when we cut back to Buffy telling Xander about the Crawford Street Mansion, he doesn't look as if he's just been screaming "ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY???" at the top of his lungs.

But JMO.

Edited by Halting Hex

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I don't think there is any way Buffy told Xander that she was allied with Spike. He would have gone crazy and as well as that, Buffy has around here, started to keep things from her friends. I don't remember her being as secretive before Becoming.

Spoiler

But from then and right through the whole series, she only shares information on what she considers a need to know basis. In some ways it's a trait that defines her character and the fracturing of their friendships but it's also lazy writing as it allows for so many plots to be driven by a lack of communication, especially as the rest of the scoobies follow suit.  And no matter how many times secretiveness blows up in their faces as it does here, and they supposedly learn to trust each other more as they supposedly do over and over again, they don't.


However, I think that just doesn't work so well once you have Joyce in the mix. She will know nearly everything by the time season 3 starts. There is no way that between Anne and DMP, she hasn't made huge headway into breaking down the walls Buffy has put up. Having her mother in the know and supporting her should have had a huge positive influence on Buffy.

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3 hours ago, AllyB said:

There is no way that between Anne and DMP, she hasn't made huge headway into breaking down the walls Buffy has put up.

Well, I doubt that much happened between the two episodes.  It's probably the same day that Buffy came home, given that she hasn't even seen her friends yet.  

Quote

BUFFY:  I thought I might find Willow and Xander.

JOYCE:  And will you be slaying?

BUFFY:  Only if they give me lip.

Hehe 🙂

Spoiler

Yes, yes, later on W/X will probably have to actually worry about this.  But that's for inferior seasons.  This is the happy time.

Okay, so Buffy's changed clothes.  But that just means she took a bath.  As she once told Xander, she's known for that.

(I wonder if it's in that Permanent Record Flutie had.  "Buffy Summers.  Prone to violence.  Burned down the gym at Hemery.  Bathes regularly.")

So, while Joyce might be more in the know later on, I don't think Buffy's had a chance to brief her, as yet.  It's a process.  But later on is for other threads.  (Or the spoiler bars, perhaps.)

Edited by Halting Hex

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On 4/30/2020 at 8:48 PM, AllyB said:

My very least favourite storytelling device is drama driven by characters not talking to each other. When a whole load of angst happens because people who would normally talk to each other don't, I just hate it.

Haven't you noticed that Buffy is one of those shows that like things complicated? What about suspense? Intrigue? "It's not interesting when things are simple" should've been Team Joss' motto. Besides, teen dramas thrive on angst. Of course, characters should talk to each other, no doubt about it. But Willow and Xander are socially awkward, Oz prefers keeping things to himself and Cordelia is tactless. As for Giles I don't understand him anymore. I've lost most of my understanding/respect for the Tweed Guy since the moment he joined "let's save private Angel, screw everything else" team in the previous season.  And Buffy starts to show the first signs of a very bad character trait of not sharing

Spoiler

(that will dominate her personality in the future to come)

 because, you know, others won't understand her pain and angst (as she tells Willow in this exact episode). 

Then again, if Buffy's characters do talk to each other

Spoiler

the plot of far too many episodes won't work...

 

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This episode seems to me like the show's take on the cult horror flick "Night of the Living Dead" (the original, 1968 version.) This episode has always seemed to me to be a prime example of the mystical, supernatural side of the show getting in the way of the real human story going on, namely Buffy's return to Sunnydale. When the raucous party in Buffy's house and all the false gaiety comes to an abrupt end I really was caught up in the tense discussion Buffy has with Xander, and wanted to hear them have it out . Then the zombies or whatever they were crashed in and that was that. And really, was the battle with the zombies supposed to be the thing that smoothed over all the tenseness and bitterness between the characters up to that point?

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9 hours ago, watcher1006 said:

And really, was the battle with the zombies supposed to be the thing that smoothed over all the tenseness and bitterness between the characters up to that point?

Well, 

Spoiler

unlike many other moments throughout the show,

zombie attack was more or less plausible excuse not to continue fighting. And yes, it smoothed over the tenseness between Buffy and Willow. I'm not totally sure about Buffy and Xander though. 

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5 hours ago, lembergwatcher said:

And yes, [zombie-fighting] smoothed over the tenseness between Buffy and Willow.

The idea of violence as a remedy for fractured friendships isn't new here; we see it when Buffy can't move past her iss-yews and collapse in Angel's arms until after she smashes the Master's skeleton (getting the ribcage twice; there's an editing flub) in When She Was Bad.  The show has been fond of the nonverbal catharsis before:  Buffy taunts Angel about being an "Undead-American" and says she's moved on to the living (to Xander's mixed messages regret), but what's really going is that dying (and finding out her death was inevitable and prophesied, ffs) understandably scared the pants off of her, and she resents Angel for both being "the thing that killed her" (metaphorically) and being functionally immortal.  And until she can take it out on a good chunk of the local Aurelians, she can't let go of her pain.

And here we have Willow feeling abandoned and Buffy feeling rejected and harsh words being said all around…until necessity reminds them of how they trust and depend on each other, and suddenly it's hugging time.  (Does Xander get a hug? I forget.  Still, even if all he does is watch "some of that Buffy and Willow action" [to cite Larry's immortal single-entendre], he seems good with that, as his request for sleepover footage in Passion indicates.)

Spoiler

Next year, we'll have Buffy and Riley, who can barely exchange a functional sentence given that they're both lying to each other (and I don't just mean about Buffy claiming her Spike-engagement was a prank or Riley's declaring himself a lesbian) finally being liberated from having negotiate a verbal relationship, and surrendering to silent subtext. 

Joss seems to be a believer that actions speak louder than words, even in the "Kiss Her! Right NOW!" department. Ironic given his reputation for wordplay and all…but sometimes nothing says "I missed you so much" like a shovel in the eyes, it seems.  Aww?

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16 hours ago, lembergwatcher said:

Well, 

  Reveal spoiler

unlike many other moments throughout the show,

zombie attack was more or less plausible excuse not to continue fighting. And yes, it smoothed over the tenseness between Buffy and Willow. I'm not totally sure about Buffy and Xander though. 

I can buy that but still, I think it was an easy way out. One of the things that distinguished this show was how it could have a supernatural/fantasy premise while it keenly explored human personalities and their relationships at the same time. It's part of what raised this show beyond its genre.

I think of the Season 2 episode "Innocence" where Willow sees Xander with Cordelia in the shelves and then after her burst of anger they talk it out. Willow tells Xander that things aren't okay between them but yes, they have to fight the Judge.

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7 hours ago, watcher1006 said:

I think of the Season 2 episode "Innocence" where Willow sees Xander with Cordelia in the shelves and then after her burst of anger they talk it out.

Slightly OT but still... I don't think we can call W/X scene from Innocence "talking it out". Willow did the talking and then quickly changed the subject of conversation before Xander managed to say a word in his defense. The difference between Dead Man's Party and Innocence  is that while repelling zombie attack helps the gang

Spoiler

fix some of their interpersonal problems (at least, for some time),

defeating the Judge didn't make things better between X & W (really better, not in "we avoid discussing this subject from now on and therefore the problem doesn't exist" kind of way). The root of 

Spoiler

all problems that plague W/X friendship throughout the rest of the show

 lies in the fact that they didn't talk it out when they had a chance. 

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2 hours ago, lembergwatcher said:

I don't think we can call W/X scene from Innocence "talking it out". Willow did the talking and then quickly changed the subject of conversation before Xander managed to say a word in his defense.

I didn't think that watcher1006 was referring to "it just means you'd rather be with somebody you hate than be with me" as "talking it out".  That's just Willow stating her grievances.  I think it's the later "…but what's happening now is more important" scene that starts the process of healing.

No, it isn't all in a day (Willow is still brittle when she suggests bringing Oz because "he has a van", and her feelings are so evident that Oz chooses not to kiss her because of them), but we get to the root of Willow's issues, that she not only feels rejected but being passed over in favor of Cordelia rubs salt in all those long-ago wounds.  Hence her "1-800-I'm-Dating-a-Skanky-Ho" ongoing venting.  Once Willow and Cordelia work out their issues by beating up Xander in self-defense class (cut scene from Phases) and begin to bond as the non-super-girls in the group, the path for W/X reconciliation is present.  (BB&B "hijinks" aside.)  So, the Judge-blasting didn't do it all by itself, but it was something of a first step, I'd still argue.

Although your longer-term theory is interesting, I'll agree.

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8 hours ago, Halting Hex said:

No, it isn't all in a day (Willow is still brittle when she suggests bringing Oz because "he has a van", and her feelings are so evident that Oz chooses not to kiss her because of them), but we get to the root of Willow's issues, that she not only feels rejected but being passed over in favor of Cordelia rubs salt in all those long-ago wounds.  Hence her "1-800-I'm-Dating-a-Skanky-Ho" ongoing venting.  Once Willow and Cordelia work out their issues by beating up Xander in self-defense class (cut scene from Phases) and begin to bond as the non-super-girls in the group, the path for W/X reconciliation is present.  (BB&B "hijinks" aside.)  So, the Judge-blasting didn't do it all by itself, but it was something of a first step, I'd still argue.

Although your longer-term theory is interesting, I'll agree.

Indeed, I didn't mean to say that Willow and Xander resolved their problems by talking. I brought up the Season 2 episode to bring up the contrast with "Dead Man's Party" in that the supernatural fight of the moment wasn't used to summarily sweep the problems in the characters' relationships away.

Although I will say that the scene of playful name-calling at the end between Buffy and Willow at the Espresso Pump(?) was amusing enough.

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8 hours ago, watcher1006 said:

Although I will say that the scene of playful name-calling at the end between Buffy and Willow at the Espresso Pump(?) was amusing enough.

I'm always amused by the little take Willow does when Buffy calls her a "tramp".  Given that Willow is still (AFAWK) nerdo intacta and Buffy's love life comes complete with a hefty body count.  Is Buffy projecting?  She knows she can't be having any more of the sex (well, not with Angel, anyway, and not just because Dear Forehead isn't even in this dimension any longer) and so she just imagines that Willow spent the summer making Oz's back hair stand on end?  Down, Buffy…don't assume.

Spoiler

Just as when she'll call Cordelia a "vapid whore" in Homecoming, even though she knows that Cordelia's boyfriend could give her chapter and verse (and footnotes and an appendix and a Chinese translation…) about how much they're not having the sex and never have.  Apparently Buffy imagines herself condemned to a life of eternal chastity, while Cordy and Willow are getting plowed like a cornfield, all around the town. Huh.

I mean, I think she's (mostly) kidding about Willow, but interesting place to go anyway, IMO.

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